President’s Message, Fall 2017

By Dave Schweidenback

Due to a confluence of events, both bicycle production and sewing machine production were sharply higher in 2017. An improving economy certainly means more bicycle sales and therefore more bicycles to recycle. P4P had a 12% increase in the production of bicycles; that means we were able to reach 12% more people.

Pedals for Progress is such a wonderful name. It explains in three words the total emphasis of our bicycle program. The name fits us. It never fit sewing machines. We had hit a ceiling of around 300 sewing machines per year, just couldn’t get the momentum to get much above 300. I determined that the problem was the name: Pedals for Progress did not explain collecting sewing machines.

We coined the name Sewing Peace and registered it with the states and commonwealths, the federal government and the bank. It is hard to have peace when you do not have prosperity. A sewing machine is a job in a box. Sewing Peace does explain what we do in two words. Each sewing machine gives someone the ability to earn a living or at least to get by. Just that one change — a name that explains what we do when we are collecting sewing machines — resulted in a 56% increase in sewing machine production! Sewing Peace went from 327 machines collected in 2016 to 511 collected in 2017. And all indications are that we will have a similar rise in production in 2018.

To manage this rise in production we have added a number of new sewing machine partners, and in early 2018 we will be adding the first new bicycle partnerships since 2010. It’s so nice when a plan works.

But it is hard work: over 40 tons of bicycles and sewing machines we went out and processed, loaded into an Avis truck, brought back to our warehouse, unpacked, sorted, packed away and then unpacked and repacked into international shipping containers. Phew! Just saying it makes me feel old. Each bicycle and sewing machine gets picked up six to eight times before it is loaded. That means our staff and volunteers lifted 240 tons of metal in 2017. Yes it is very hard work, but it is very worthwhile.

P.S. For fall 2017, we are trying yet another publishing method. Instead of producing separate newsletters — InGear for bikes and InStitch for sewing machines — we are combining all the articles into a single newsletter. Let us know what you think.

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